How does someone go from being ‘sales impaired’ to a sales technology evangelist?
Find out in today’s episode of the Hey Salespeople podcast. LinkedIn’s Roberto Beltran and Jeremey Donovan discuss AI’s use-case for salespeople, Roberto’s career path in Sales Development Operations, and how the profession has evolved.
Throughout his career, Roberto has witnessed first hand how the sales landscape has evolved with new technology and weighs in with Jeremey on sales platforms, innovation, and how to ride the new sales waves.
Listen to this episode for answers to questions like:
- What are the risks and benefits of AI?
- Why does Roberto consider himself sales impaired?
- What should you look for in a sales platform?
- What lessons can sales engagement learn from marketing?
- What are some ideas for beginning a career in Sales Development Operations?
Listen here, and keep reading for some of the highlights from this episode below.
Jeremey: As you prioritize the components that you would want in a sales platform, what components are you looking for?
Roberto: What we’re looking for is, first and foremost, analytics. Analytics has been difficult to get a consolidated view into all of the sales motions that our teams make. Having clear analytics that can help guide us from a coaching perspective is key.
Sales tech, a sales engagement tool, will help you manage complex tasks, especially top of the funnel in sales development. But what a sales technology tool will not do for you is help you figure out and cut through the noise of what are the right actions to take. Marketing has done a phenomenal job at LinkedIn of identifying and slicing through the noise to identify the signal. Then having a sales engagement tool can really take it to the next level, and make sure that you’re hitting the people that are truly showing the signal.
Companies like LinkedIn, I think are making fairly big investments into really dissecting what is the signal from the noise, and then using tools like SalesLoft to help really attack that signal and make sure we’re hitting the customers at the right time.
Jeremey: There’s the marketing world and the sales engagement world. You talked about already that the next piece would be opportunity management, and then ultimately customer success. Do you separate those things? Would you think about different platforms for each of those areas? Or would you ideally want to see those converge as well?
Roberto: I would like to see more convergence in our ability to nurture people at different stages of the funnel. I think there’s an opportunity for marketing teams to have more visibility throughout different points in the funnel. When people disengage, maybe they need to just be pushed over the fence to make a decision. If they’re earlier in the funnel, they need a more passive, nurturing campaign to eventually get them to a point to where they’re ready to have a demo or a discussion. So I’ve definitely seen the need for more convergence in marketing technology throughout the funnel.
Jeremey: So inclusive of both standard marketing, pre-customer marketing, demand generation, and nurturing, as well as product marketing or customer marketing, which we’re starting to see a bit more of now as well. I would assume it includes both of those things.
Roberto: I’m even thinking non-existing customers who get to a certain plan and funnel and then disengage for whatever reason. There’s an opportunity to pull that person back into the funnel.
Jeremey: Another thing that comes in and out as sometimes an eye-roller and sometimes not is artificial intelligence or machine learning technologies. Have you seen anything that’s caught your eye in those hundreds, if not thousands of companies in the sales tech landscape on the AI and machine learning side?
Roberto: Honestly, I haven’t seen a tool that I feel like has really nailed the usage of AI and helping identify sales prospects. Where I have seen significant improvement is in the natural language processing space, and the ability to categorize conversations by sentiment to coach the way you speak with clients.
I haven’t looked into this recently, but there was a startup doing some work in the install base space. So basically, with companies who have a very large inventory of products and these products come for renewal, sort of automating the process of suggesting that customers renew, and automating the process of suggesting the cross-selling of products that go along with these expensive pieces of hardware. That’s the one area where I have seen big advances, and it has really made an impact on companies’ revenue. But in a place like our business, there are not enough data points to make a case for the usage of AI or machine learning.
Jeremey: Do you think AI solutions and coaching are helpful? One is in the conversational intelligence world, but there’s also a new cadre of companies who have come about. They’ll look at how an individual salesperson is performing in terms of activities or opportunity factors, whether it’s days in a stage, close rates, or next steps and so on.
They’ll be able to at least provide an advanced warning signal to managers that something is going wrong, or maybe even a positive thing that this person is a bright spot. If you figure out what they’re doing, you can teach that to other people.
Roberto: If sales reps are not performing the number of activities or the touches that they need to, and they basically won’t hit their numbers, then yeah, that sounds like a very useful use case for AI.
Jeremey: Besides AI, are there any other waves that you’ve seen sweeping through that we have not already talked about?
Roberto: Yes, so the whole idea about cadences. It was a cutting edge concept three or four years ago. More players have come into the space and there are more and more players starting to penetrate. What that means is just more noise for the customer.
I think that the sales engagement tools that will rise above are people who can maintain the messaging and make it personalized. Not only that but make sure you’re engineering so these messages aren’t in spam.
There are still some levels of innovation where companies are going to have to make sure they’re still standing out even though this space is becoming more crowded. Also, enriching the product with other areas of value. I feel like there is definitely a race for who’s going to become the best platform out there. And the best platform is going to be ultimately the product who can address all of the pain points of the seller.
THERE’S A LOT MORE AFTER THIS! Listen to the full podcast for more on new sales technology.
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